Since the beginning of the offseason, it’s been apparent that the Twins needed a shortstop. Andrelton Simmons wasn’t likely to be welcomed back, and Royce Lewis hadn’t played in a game since 2020. Watching options fall off the board, it looked like Story or bust, but mainly because the assumption has always been Correa would return to the Astros. In signing with Minnesota, there’s no denying he immediately becomes the best to play the position in franchise history.
Just how good is Correa, though? It’s fair to argue he may be the best in baseball.
Recently running down their “Top 10 Right Now” lists, MLB Network slated Correa as the third-best shortstop in baseball. They’ve got him placed behind the oft-injured Fernando Tatis Jr. and the versatile Trea Turner. It’s fair to argue for either of those two as being better, but what exactly does Correa bring to the table?
Last season the former Astro won his first Gold Glove. That award can often be scrutinized through the lens of an offensive producer that gets additional consideration defensively for their bat. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth when considering Correa in 2021. His 20 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in 2021 was a career-high, and he’s never posted lower than 4 DRS in a single season. To contextualize that performance, 20 DRS is something like former Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons in his prime. The caveat for Correa is that it comes with a strong .837 OPS.
No matter where you look for metrics, they view Correa in the same vein. Major League Baseball’s Statcast has Correa worth 12 outs above average (OAA) in 2021, which ranked 6th among shortstops across the league. He was also credited with preventing nine runs.
The beauty of Correa is that he’s a true five-tool player. For everything noted defensively, it only scratches the surface of his actual impact on the game. Correa’s Statcast percentile rankings from 2021 are basically just the fire emoji.
Drafted one pick higher than new teammate Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa is an absolute menace in the box. Under this new regime, the Twins have long been fans of exit velocity and hard-hit rates. Last season Correa’s max exit velocity ranked in the 97th percentile across MLB. His expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) was a robust .373, and his 41.6% ground ball rate was near a career-low. In the box, it basically boils down to Correa hunting to do damage every time he swings the bat.
In a lineup that has some swing and miss, it’s worth noting that Correa’s plate discipline will also be welcomed. Last season a 27% chase rate was a career-low, and his 8.2% whiff rate checked in with the same designation. Swinging at pitches in the zone, Correa makes contact nearly 90% of the time. Considering the approach to doing damage, putting the bat on the ball with pitches that can be handled is about the ideal outcome you can hope for.
There’s just no way to summarize any of this other than in the middle of the night Derek Falvey signed the best free agent in organization history and very possibly the best at his position across the sport. Structuring his contract with opt-outs gives both sides future flexibility, and there’s still no hampering any future impact top prospect Royce Lewis could have at the position. Right now, I’d bet Lewis is excited to learn from one of the games best, and Baldelli’s lineup just got infused with an otherworldly talent.
Is there a shortstop you’re taking over Correa? The best part of it is that any answer is hypothetical, and this one is now Minnesota’s.